Opposition to fracking reaches its highest point, official survey says
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The Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the latest of its regular checks on public opinion on a range of subjects, found that more people now thought that shale gas extraction from the countryside, such as has happened at the Preston New Road site near Little Plumpton, was a bad idea.
The main reason for the opposition to fracking by the people questioned was given as the loss and destruction of the natural environment (57 per cent).
This was followed by concern about the risk of earthquakes (45 per cent). The test fracking that occurred at the Preston New Road drill site caused more than 50 tremors in autumn 2019, several of which were higher than the Government safety levels and some of which were felt in homes across the area.
The quakes led to the Government calling a halt to fracking operations until "until compelling new evidence is provided to address concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity."
The other reason given for opposition to the fracking industry was concern about the safety of the process (27 per cent).
The report said in March 2020, awareness of fracking remained stable at 78 per cent, with levels unchanged since December 2018.
Opposition to fracking reached its highest point across the tracker at 45 per cent, from a low of 21 per cent when the question was first asked in December 2013.
Support was down from 10 per cent in December 2019.
The proportion of people that neither supported nor opposed fracking remained stable at 45 per cent. It has remained between 43 per cent and 53 per cent over the course of the tracker.
Fracking company Cuadrilla, which has drilled two test wells at the Preston New Road site has said that it will work with the Government to address concerns so that the moratorium can be lifted and the Bowland gas resource beneath Lancashire further appraised and developed.
It believes that the gas in the Bowland Shale, thousands of feet below the ground, is a large and potentially useful home-grown supply for energy and other industrial uses. While operations have ended at its fracking sites it has recently applied to further investigate its conventional gas site at Elswick.
Claire Stephenson from Frack Free Lancashire, which has campaigned against fracking in the UK, said: “It’s no surprise that there has been a record increase in opposition to fracking, with another drop in support.
"Fracking has suffered blow after blow in the industry’s attempts to kick-start any sort of viable operations in the UK. The rapid decline in fracking projects across the USA and the mounting debt of billions of dollars is not a tempting industry to pursue in the likely onslaught of a global recession.
"The rating agency, Moody’s stated that in the third quarter of 2019, 91 per cent of defaulted US corporate debt was caused by oil and gas companies, with April 2020 seeing a five-year total bankruptcy of 215 oil and gas companies totalling $130bn dollars of debt.”